This long post on the threat to the Internet’s open nature, which we take for granted, is worth every one of the twenty minutes you’ll spend reading it.
The Internet is far more centralized than it was when it began to gain widespread acceptance, with the vast amount of our communication and data routed through a handful of companies. Access to the Internet is also a lot more concentrated than one commonly thinks. Finally, as it becomes a utility, the Internet has attracted more regulation than before, not always in individuals’ favour.
Lawmakers in the United States are bent on dismantling net neutrality (which would make Internet access a lot like cable TV). China has made ‘unauthorised VPNs’ illegal. The Indian IT Act’s notorious section 66A (struck down, but not quite) has been used to arrest people who’ve done nothing more than ‘like’ a Facebook post.
It’s important we understand at a high level how access to the Internet works. It’s just important we look at how the telephone, radio and television industries – the previous dominant communication media – became highly protected oligopolies, so we can guard ourselves against the same happening to the Internet.